WEEK 49, Day 7, Sunday, 9 December 2018

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Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Sunday, 9 December 18:

1. Amos 1:1 – “The words of Amos, who was among the shepherds of Tekoa.” God did not speak through the priests and prophets; He spoke through a faithful shepherd. God does not honor position; He honors fidelity. Amos was a shepherd called to preach a message to the nations.

2. Amos 1:1-15 – God holds all nations accountable to justice and mercy.

3. Amos 1:2 — “The Lord roars from Zion and utters his voice from Jerusalem.” God worked His plan through Jerusalem, though the people who were called to be his “kingdom of priests” there were full of iniquity. He would discipline them before a watching world, but His plan remains unhindered by their infidelity. Remember what Mordecai said to Esther: “For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Remember, Lot, a righteous man, did little to influence society while Sodom and Gomorrah went from bad to worse before destruction. Are you doing all that God has called you to do to warn others in our time?

4. Amos 1:6 – “I will not revoke the punishment, because they carried into exile a whole people to deliver them up to Edom.” God does not provoke sin, but He allows sin for His purposes. God often uses sinful people to discipline His disobedient people, but He still holds the sinful instruments of discipline accountable for their sins. While God disciplines, it may appear, for a time, that sinners prevail.

5. Amos 1:11 – “I will not revoke the punishment, because he pursued his brother with the sword and cast off all pity, and his anger tore perpetually, and he kept his wrath forever.” Don’t confuse God’s patience with apathy or cheap grace. For the unrepentant sinner, I time will come where God “will not revoke the punishment.”

6. Amos 2:4 – “… they have rejected the law of the Lord, and have not kept his statutes, but their lies have led them astray, those after which their fathers walked.”

– Israel’s neighbors were punished for how they treated others, but God’s people were first judged by how they treated God in their unique relationship with Him. They were meant to be in a loving relationship with God and to serve as priests and ambassadors for Him to the world, but they rejected Him, disobeyed Him, and led others astray. The people of Judah had been taught to sin by their parents, but that was no excuse for continuing in sin. Those who know Him have a unique responsibility to make Him known to others, to glorify Him, in word and deed. If the world becomes darker, it can only be that the light of God’s people (reflecting from their proximity to God) has grown dim.

– Disobedience to God is a rejection of Him and His Sovereignty. Regardless of how we try to make light of sin and justify it, it is cosmic treason against to Almighty. Pray that God will help you see sin the way He sees it.

7. Amos 2:6-8 – “Thus says the Lord: ‘For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment, because they sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals— those who trample the head of the poor into the dust of the earth and turn aside the way of the afflicted; a man and his father go in to the same girl, so that my holy name is profaned; they lay themselves down beside every altar on garments taken in pledge, and in the house of their God they drink the wine of those who have been fined.” Israel was judged not just for sexual immorality and idolatry but also because the people made themselves rich by putting other people into financial bondage or debt. Through financial manipulation, they made others poor so that they could live in luxury. God does not want us to get rich on the backs of others.

8. Amos 2:12 — “But you made the Nazirites drink wine, and commanded the prophets, saying, ‘You shall not prophesy.’” A sinful land will not tolerate faithful preachers, and the unfaithful preachers will conform to the current demands of society with watered down, comfortable sermons that tell people what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear.

9. Amos 2:15 – “…he who handles the bow shall not stand….” Sinful nations trust in their man-made might rather than in God. God will knock down that house of cards.

10. Amos 2 – Prosperity achieved in ungodliness will be destroyed by God Himself. Human strength is an illusion.

11. Amos 3:2 — “You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore, I will punish you for all your iniquities.” Parents discipline their own kids more than they punish others’ kids. Christians have greater responsibility than others, not less, and God holds them especially accountable. Don’t you expect those who truly love you to respect you more than those who don’t? Shouldn’t our love for God result in heartfelt purity, obedience, and holiness? And don’t parents expect their children to grow in maturity? Don’t expect God to allow His grown children to act like babies who are not part of His family and who don’t bear His name.

12. Amos 3:3 — “Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet?” Decisions produce natural consequences. A decision for Christ is logically followed by a walk with Christ. If you are not walking with Christ, the decision is in question. Jesus said that you are either with Him or against Him; you are either gathering with Him or scattering; you cannot serve two masters; and He spits out the lukewarm. Among those who left Egypt during the great exodus, only Joshua and Caleb made it into the Promised Land because only they were “wholehearted.” What have you truly decided? Are you truly walking with Jesus or are you more like Peter after he denied Christ and observed His suffering from a distance.

13. Amos 3:7 — “For the Lord God does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets.” A nation without faithful servants of God have no real prophets and have no clue what God is doing. Still many will claim to speak for God. Does the church know what God is doing now? Do you have the revelation of God as a natural product of your close relationship with Him? In his day, the shepherd Amos was the one God found ready to proclaim truth in a deceived land full of unfaithful government officials and religious leaders.

14. Amos 3:8 – “The Lord God has spoken; who can but prophesy?” Faithful followers of Jesus cannot help but proclaim His word.

15. Proverbs 9:4-6 — “’Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!’ To him who lacks sense she says, ‘Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways, and live, and walk in the way of insight.’” The invitation is out there for anyone willing to repent and to humble themselves before the Lord.

16. Proverbs 9:7-8 – “Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse, and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury. Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you.” Jesus told His disciples to invest their time and energy on those who would accept their message and to ‘shake the dust off their feet and walk away’ from those who were clearly not willing to listen — “And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town.” (Matthew 10:14) We are called to proclaim the Gospel to all but most importantly to make disciples of those who would follow Jesus. Pay close attention to Jesus’ Great Commission to us: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Mathew 28:19, 20) Again, God did not call us to just make believers, He called us, you and I, to make disciples, teaching them “to obey all,” to be priests on this earth. (1 Peter 2:5-9) That means the you must first be a good example of a priest, knowing how to rightly divine and to teach God’s word, and you must lead others in walking in the word. It is much, much more than simply sitting in church and in small group Bible studies, it is hitting the streets with fellow believers as the Spirit leads, like Jesus did with His twelve. It means getting dirty and stepping out in faith into the unknown. It means learning how to discern who is already being convicted by the Holy Spirit and then ministering to them. Are you ready to accept the Great Commission? Do you have mentees who are equally committed to following Jesus? As you lead others, remember to lead them as a mere follower of Jesus – it is always about Jesus and not about you. Never, ever point to yourself, always to Jesus.

17. Proverbs 9:10 – “The knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” We are only as wise and spiritual as how well we know Jesus. Jesus explains this in John 17. It is not moralism that saves us. It is Jesus. Jesus doesn’t just want us to live ‘good’ lives and do works of charity so that life might be more comfortable on earth for the lost. Jesus wants us to know Him and lead others to knowing Him.

18. Proverbs 9:12 – “If you are wise, you are wise for yourself; if you scoff, you alone will bear it.” The choice is ours. Will we obey God’s word in total, or will we get wrapped up in the worries of the world? Some “scoff” in obvious ways by denying Jesus, but others “scoff” in less obvious ways by ignoring God’s Great Commandment and Great Commission, the call to live solely as an ambassador for Jesus. Even the demons believe and Jesus, and many church goers scoff – the lukewarm who have lost their light and saltiness.

19. Proverbs 9:15-16 – “The woman Folly is loud; she is seductive and knows nothing. She sits at the door of her house; she takes a seat on the highest places of the town, calling to those who pass by, who are going straight on their way.” Folly’s message competes with Wisdom’s (Jesus’) message, inviting all to live for self-interest and pleasure. In the competition of ideas, you are called to proclaim Jesus, not moralism or a message the merely promises better living on earth.

20. Psalm 144 — “Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle; he is my steadfast love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and he in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me. O Lord, what is man that you regard him, or the son of man that you think of him? Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow….. rescue me and deliver me… from the hand of foreigners…. I will sing a new song to you, O God…. Rescue me and deliver me from the hand of foreigners…. May our sons in their youth be like plants full grown, our daughters like corner pillars cut for the structure of a palace…. Blessed are the people whose God is the Lord!” There is an old adage, “There are no atheists in foxholes.” Combat has an incredible way of putting things in perspective. Many promises are made to God before the advance into harm’s way, and national calls for repentance, fasting, and prayer are often proclaimed. What happens after receiving God’s grace, mercy, and blessings? How easy is it to forget and for our gratitude to fade? Are you still amazed by grace?

— Luke 17:15-19 — Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”

21. Psalm 144:1 – “Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle; he is my steadfast love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and he in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me.”

– Humility recognizes that all of your abilities were given to you by God and were intended for you to use them to serve Him, not yourself.

– In love, God trains His people to fight when required. After all of your readings this year, is that still hard for you to understand?

22. Psalm 144:3, 4 — “O Lord, what is man that you regard him, or the son of man that you think of him? Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.” How incredible is it that the Almighty God, Creator of everything loves each of us personally and perfectly! How can we even comprehend such a thing? How should that truth impact your outlook on life?

“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 9 Dec 18: Make a list of all the things you are good at, all the talents and abilities God has given you. Now make a list of all the ways you have used those abilities for God’s service rather than your own and how many times you have publicly given God all the credit for who you are. Do you use your gifts mostly for yourself or for God? (Psalm 144:1)

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